Is anyone visiting my web site?Written by Fernando Maciá
Is your web site performing as you expected? Do you know who visits your site and how often? What is nature of their visits? Where do your visitors come from? What other web sites or search engines are referring visitors to your site? What web pages interest your visitors most and which ones attract less attention? As a teaching consultant of On-line Marketing courses, I frequently formulate similar questions to audiences that generally include sales directors and marketing executives from medium and large size companies. My listeners are always amazed when they realize that even though their companies are investing large sums of money to conduct market studies or purchase marketing results (e.g. Nielsen) to learn about their client’s preferences, they are not taking advantage of analyzing and interpreting data from their own web traffic statistics. The differences between two primary sets of web traffic statistics –server activity analysis and real-time statistics via script controls and cookies- have already been covered in a former write-up (see “What is behind all those web traffic reports”, 9/2/03). This article will now focus on those pieces of information, contained in a web traffic report, that are of most interest from a Marketing perspective. After learning where to look and how to interpret data, one will feel more encouraged to embark in apparently arduous task of interpreting web traffic statistics. Our prize at end will be a significant increase in web site performance, greater traffic, better search engine positioning and a deeper understanding of expectations and interests of our web visitors. All this combined can translate into additional sales, more registered users and a larger amount of frequent users. Let’s explore what we need to consider first. Web Traffic Hits, visited pages, number of sessions… Rather than being overly concerned with absolute values of these statistics that, incidentally, may vary dramatically based on type of software being used to measure web traffic, we should pay attention to evolution of these values over time while maintaining measuring software same. One can click on a weekly or, better yet, monthly view report and graph will quickly show whether our traffic is increasing or decreasing, and a simple mathematical computation (perhaps tool automatically provides it) of dividing number of visited pages by total number of visitors will tell us how many pages a visitor views on average. Whether our traffic increases, decreases, or remains stable, it will be interesting and valuable to see when a particular trend changes and analyze if change is caused by a previously planned action, such as launch of an on-line publicity campaign, agreement to exchange web links with other sites, or start of search engine positioning services. Visitors In this section, it is important to distinguish between unique visitors and repeating visitors. If one of your goals is to sell a service or product on-line, a high degree of repetition from your visitors will likely indicate a high level of customer commitment to your service or product. However, one must exercise caution when evaluating number of unique versus repeating visitors. If your tool, for instance, uses visitor’s IP address to determine whether visitor is unique or not, tool will at times count multiple visits from same user as unique. This can happen when a visitor uses a dial-up modem to access Internet, since each call will likely get a different IP address assigned. Conversely, if a group of users is accessing Internet behind a router or proxy, they will all share same IP address and tool will count them as a single repeating visitor. If cookies, on other hand, are used to determine uniqueness of a visitor, data collected will be much more reliable.
Other useful information typically associated with visitors is their country of origin and their language, which may prove useful when considering international opportunities or value of creating a version of your web site in another language.
Visited Pages Determine which pages are visited most besides your default page, which tends to register largest number of visits since it is typical point of entry to your web site. Identify those areas of most interest to your visitors. By analyzing most common navigational routes, discover how far your visitors click. If report, for example, reflects a large number of visits to your home page and classifies them as unique page visits, it could mean one of two things. Your site is experiencing low quality traffic, with visitors not interested in your products or services and therefore not going beyond your home page, or you may want to consider redesigning home page, since apparently is not generating enough interest among your visitors and thus, they are not navigating deeper into your web site.
The report will also identify most common exit point out of a visitor’s session. Once this exit page has been identified, its design can be reinforced to include new points of interest with links to other sections of your web site. Sessions and visit duration This value tries to measure amount of time that a given user spends navigating a web site. One must be careful, though, when considering this piece of information, since a visitor could inadvertently leave a window, and therefore a session, open and minimized. This would be measured as an active session, even though user was not actively navigating through web site. In any case, a large number of very short visits could indicate an erroneous positioning of a web site. In other words, web site is attracting visitors who cannot find what they were expecting. Referrals and search engines One of most valuable pieces of information that can be obtained from a web traffic statistical report is origin of visits. In other words, it is extremely helpful to know web site that visitors were navigating prior to reaching ours. We will be able to distinguish between users who clicked on a link at another web site in order to reach ours from visitors who clicked on one of search results returned by a search engine. In this latter case, report will also identify keywords that were used to launch query.
Getting your Visitor's Details Using PHPWritten by Vinu Thomas
You can get quite a bit of information about your visitors without having to use a third party tracking software. I'll outline PHP commands you can use to capture some of this data. The details you capture can be saved into a database, and retrieved later to check your site's performance and user details. The following information is captured using server variable ($_SERVER) which is available from PHP 4.10 onwards.
Visitor's IP address :
You can get visitor's IP address using following command:
|<? $ip = $_SERVER['HTTP_CLIENT_IP']; ?> |
This will give you vistor's IP address. You can use this along with an ip to country converter database to see from which country your visitors are come in from. You can head over to http://ip-to-country.webhosting.info/ for one such script.
You can use PHP to resolve ip address to a domain name to get visitor's ISP in most cases. The ISP's domain will show up if PHP is able to resolve IP to a proper domain. You can do this as follows.
$ip = $_SERVER['HTTP_CLIENT_IP'];
$visitor_host = @getHostByAddr( $ip );
Note : On some servers, using getHostByAddr to resolve domains may cause script to slow down.
Referring Page :
You can capture referring page, which will give you an indication of which site is sending traffic to you.
|<? $referrer_page = $_SERVER['HTTP_REFERER']; ?> |
This will give you entire URL from which visitor came to your site. For example if visitor came from a google search for "i-pod", referrer url would look something like this :
If you don't want entire URL captured, but just domain name stored into database, you can strip rest of URL and save it to database like so: